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NECA CFO termination could be start of more terminations


Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority has started mass terminations that began with the enterprise’s CFO.

NECA CFO Derrick Zahne claims more terminations could occur. He was informed of his termination by a letter dated March 1, stemming from a violation that NECA used as a reason for his firing. 

The human resources manager, Raymond Smith, was suspended for signing Zahne’s letter. Smith has been with NECA for 35 years.

Zahne and Smith emailed the NECA Board of Directors, adding several individuals, including the Navajo Nation Council Resource and Development Committee member Rickie Nez.

Zahne requested the Council rescind the board’s decision to terminate the NECA management agreement between Skanska USA Civil West Inc.  

Zahne’s and Smith’s email includes Skanska USA, Ronald M. Curtis, the manager of Navajo Labor Relations, Speaker Crystalyne Curley, and the Navajo president’s office. 

Zahne says the board and its legal counsel informed the employees at an annual board meeting in Chandler, Arizona, Jan. 27-28. 

“That is when the ninety-day notice began,” Zahne said.

After receiving his termination, Zahne said information surfaced that other employees have also begun receiving 90-day termination letters. The former CFO believes the enterprise’s management won’t be affected by the termination. 

The Navajo Times contacted Chris Burnside, a spokesman for the speaker’s office, requesting information regarding the alleged mass terminations. Burnside was also asked if NECA’s management would remain intact. 

Burnside said Curley is looking into the matter. 

Burnside added that Curley said the Naabik’íyáti Committee issued a verbal directive that a work session would be held at her office to discuss the matter.

The NABI work session has not been scheduled. However, the next NABI regular session is March 9 at 10 a.m.

The Navajo Times has made unsuccessful attempts to reach several NECA executives. 

The Navajo Times will report more information as the story unfolds.

About The Author

Holly James

Holly James is Kinyaa'áanii (the Towering House Clan) and born for Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water Clan). Her maternal grandfather is Kinłichíi’nii (Red House Clan), and her paternal grandfather is Honágháahnii (One-walks-around Clan). Ms. James was born in Tséhootsooí (Fort Defiance), Ariz., and grew up in Phoenix. She began her tenure with the Navajo Times as a freelancer, and a year ago, she moved from Nevada to Diné Bikéyah and became a full-time reporter. Her passion is sharing the light of her Diné People, the tenacity, pride, ingenuity, and resilience they show daily. She intends to enrich the hopes and aspirations of the Diné through the stories of contributions and hardships, survival, and culture revitalization.


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